A Quick and Easy Test for Bakelite / Catalin


Testing for Bakelite / Catalin is remarkably easy.  To put it quite simply: all you have to do is get some silver polish containing simichrome and rub it on the piece using a paper towel.  If the paper towel shows a yellow color, it is Bakelite / Catalin.  If it doesn’t, it is not.  (There are some exceptions to this, such as black Bakelite or Catalin, which may not show positive results).

What I like about this test is I don’t have to try and identify the subtle differences in smells when the piece is run under hot water.  I don’t know about you, but I find those kinds of test very difficult.  I think I have a decent sense of smell, but the moment I over-think it I can’t tell the subtle differences in smells of different plastics – I am a human, after all, not a sniffer dog!

It’s worthwhile knowing this simple simichrome test as Bakelite / Catalin is becoming increasingly sought after and rare and has considerably more value than other plastics, whether it’s used in jewelry or other objects. It can also be remarkably lovely.


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